On 17 March, in his first public speaking engagement since taking up the role of Indian Defence Minister for the second time, Arun Jaitley called on Russia to adopt a more liberal and cooperative approach to technology transfer and knowledge sharing.
Addressing a conference on Indian-Russian military and industrial cooperation, Jaitley emphasised the high level of dependence the Indian armed forces have on equipment of Russian origin, stating that, “their maintenance and life-cycle support is extremely important for us for our defence preparedness.”
There are long-standing grievances in India over the inordinately long timeframes often attached to the procurement of spare and replacement parts from Russia. Licensing Indian manufacture of parts and subsystems for which requirements are both recurring and high volume, he suggested, would be a route not only to strengthening relationships between the two nations but could also open the door to better joint penetration of the wider global market.
He further pointed out that the Indian foreign direct investment regime for defence equipment is amongst the most liberal in the world and should be a positive encouragement for Russian companies. Unstated, but perhaps deliberately implied, is the fact the same applies to any other nation’s defence industries. The conference – and Jaitley’s remarks, come at a time when the world’s leading defence companies are making significant efforts to accommodate Indian desires and aspirations in indigenous manufacturing and technology development.
Two agreements were signed at the conference between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation for long term supply of spares and technical assistance for Sukhoi 30MKI aircraft over the next five years.